High-Throughput screening of drug candidates made easier by FRETinFLOW

September 14, 2015 - 4 minutes

A multidisciplinary team from France has come up with a robust approach to detect molecular interactions in a reliable way using flow cytometry. This technology could lead to the discovery of new drugs via High-Throughput screening.

Flow cytometry is a laser-based, biophysical technology employed by scientists all over the world to count and sort cells. It does this by suspending the cells in a stream of fluid and then passing them through a piece of electronic detection apparatus. Furthermore, Försters resonance energy transfer (FRET), is a non-invasive technology that permits the study of protein interactions with a resolution of 1-10nm.

Various methodological and conceptual advances are required to chart comprehensive protein interaction maps and understand the complexity of networks. Similarly, much also needs to be done in order to characterize protein modulators. In this regard, the FRET approach represents an alternative to study these interactions in vivo. In addition, when the rapidity and multiparametric properties of flow cytometry are combined with the precision and resolution capabilities of FRET, we can obtain a robust and quick approach to analysing protein interactions in viable cells.

And this is exactly what has been accomplished by the multidisciplinary team from Dijon University! They came up with a patented software capable of combining the power of flow cytometry with the FRET technique, entitled FRETinFLOW!

The research team solidified its concept by measuring the activity of caspase 8. They have been able to measure the efficiency of FRET using various fusion proteins in such a way that any intrinsic artifacts related to the capture of fluorescent signals are easily corrected by the software. Up until today this correction was not readily available with classical flow cytometry techniques.

cytometry FRET in FLOW

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FRETinFLOW’s software, with its unique algorithm, is capable of calculating and counteracting artifacts related to the flow Cytometry in a cell by cell system. Not only that, the software can improve results by only taking into consideration viable cells with fluorescence in the process.

Not convinced by the operational advantages of the software? A quick word regarding the time saving should have you convinced… Capable of generating a full and comprehensive report, ready to be used by the scientific team, there is simply no technology equivalent to this one today!

The benefits of this technique could be significant for biotech and pharma companies because protein-protein interactions play a central role in the regulation of all biological processes and represents a promising class of therapeutic targets. Understanding molecular interactions precisely is a major challenge in understanding the most aggressive diseases of today (e.g. Cancers).


As of now, this approach will only be valid with fluorescent biosensors. These are attractive and powerful tools for drug discovery programs, from high throughput screening assays, to optimization of lead compounds and preclinical evaluation of drug candidates. In addition, biosensors provide a means of screening for inhibitors that selectively target enzymatic activity, conformation and/or function in vitro as the caspase activity.

Let’s consider this practical example: a company looking for a kinase activator or an apoptosis inhibitor involved in cancer. Bottom line: FRETinFLOW could be a life savior. By using high-throughput screening of molecules via biosensors and FRETinFLOW’s software; scientists coud rapidly identify the best drug candidate possible in a huge bank of molecules and do this all much more reliably than more common techniques.

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Originally designed to help fundamental research, the FRETinFLOW software is now showing a high industrial potential. Dijon University’s team is now looking for an industrial partner to bring this innovation to more laboratories. If you want to contact them you can send a mail to contact@cytometrie-dijon.fr

Editor note: this post is sponsored by SATT Grand Est.

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